Under-pressure paramedics - keeping Weston A&E closed at night is 'madness'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 December 2017
Paramedics have apologised for 'failing' the public as they 'struggle to maintain a crumbling service', with one Weston-super-Mare ambulance worker saying the town's A&E must open to reduce the stress on its 'overstretched' service.
South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT) paramedics apologised in an open letter for leaving patients on the floor or in hospital corridors for hours and say the situation is potentially putting people’s lives at risk.
Weston General Hospital’s A&E closed overnight on July 4, with bosses citing its struggle to recruit senior doctors as one of the main reasons.
But one paramedic told the Mercury it is ‘madness’ to not use the A&E each night, adding it was ‘tiring’ and ‘frustrating’ for ambulance workers and patients to travel to hospitals in Bristol and Taunton.
He added: “Weston A&E needs to be reopened, fully staffed and fully resourced 24/7 in order for ambulance services to not be so stretched in the area.
“It is madness, anyone who knows emergency medicine knows timing is critical and if you have a fantastic resource like Weston and do not use it you are culpable in the harm of some people.”
Hospital chiefs have previously said the A&E closure is not harming patients and is running smoothly.
SWASFT chief executive Ken Wenman said he recognises the pressure the service is under and is ‘working hard’ to improve the situation.
Weston MP John Penrose told the Mercury that fully reopening A&E will ‘reduce the pressure’ on the ambulance service.
Medics said in a letter published by the union GMB: “We are struggling to maintain a crumbling service. We are sorry for the patients and family members who have been left on the floor for hours as consequence of not getting to you on time.
“We are sorry when you remain in the ambulance or in the hospital corridor for hours when we are stacked at A&Es because we cannot complete our handover.”
The Weston paramedic, who wanted to remain anonymous, said 12-hour shifts, which sometimes over-run by three or four hours, had a ‘detrimental effect’ on the mental and physical health of his colleagues.
He added: “It is difficult enough switching to critical care mode in a minute but we cannot provide the best care possible when we are exhausted.”